Torn Ear Lobe - Split Ear Lobe

Ear lobes are a source of beauty. Their shape and form are very important to men and women. They are a common area used for ornaments. These vary from simple earrings to studs and more complex designs found mostly in Africa and South Asia.

Because the ear lobe is not a very strong mechanical structure it cannot withstand the weight or forces that are placed upon it, especially with heavy earrings. These deformities of the lobule of the ear can have many shapes and forms. Typically, the hole where the earring is placed becomes wider as time passes. If and when heavy earrings are worn, or earrings are worn for an extended period of time this will hasten the development of this split ear lobe. This widening will eventually progress to a full tear where you are left with a split earlobe. Some patients with multiple piercings in their ears actually may end up with multiple tears of the ear lobe.

Accidents and trauma can also cause the lobule of the ear to tear. It is not uncommon for me to see or to hear a story of a mother who was taking care of her young child and developed a tear of her ear lobe. And as we know the children are playful and like to play with earrings especially if they are colorful, bright and dangling. The child grabs the earring and unknowingly pulls at it or does not let it go. This causes the earring to tear through the lobule. Other times the torn ear lobe can happen while you are sleeping with your earrings. The earring can catch in clothing or sheets and tear. Similar problems can happen in men as well.

Torn ear lobes also called split ear lobes can also happen during fights and other trauma. The repair of the deformity is relatively straight forward and can be easily done in the office just using local anesthesia. The surgical area is first cleansed and sterilized with the appropriate anti microbial agent. The skin cleft between the two sides of the split is then removed. The remaining lobule is split into four flaps. The lobule is then recreated using very fine sutures that are placed in the front and back of the ear lobe. I remove the sutures at two stages in weekly intervals in order to maximize strength and aesthetics at the same time. There is little to no post operative discomfort. You can even go right back to work immediately after the procedure is completed.

I do not recommend piercing the ear for at least six months to one year after the repair.  This allows the scar to mature and to achieve maximum strength with healing. The ear should also not be pierced in the same location where it was repaired. This scar is not as strong as the native tissue and will tear much more easily than if the piercing was done in a new position. Finally, I do not recommend that you wear anything more than studs for extended periods of time. Wearing heavy or dangling earrings for a long period of time will result in a split and torn ear lobe again. I can pierce your ear for you in one year when the healing is complete.

Keloids/Scar Revisions

Some patients have associated problems with their ear lobe from previous piercings. This includes painful cysts and keloids that can occur in the ear lobe. These can be treated and removed at the same time the split ear lobe is repaired. Some additional treatment with steroids and or radiation is required in patients with keloids to minimize their recurrence. Pressure earring in the form of clip on earrings helps to decrease the recurrence of keloids. It also helps to soften the scars. Patients with previous keloids that have been successfully treated should not have their ear lobes pierced again since this may result in the development of keloids once again.

Scars can be revised with a combination of therapies and surgery. Some scars need to be re oriented to heal better. Some may need what we call z-plasty or W-plasty. Sometimes steroid injections will help. Sometimes the use of lasers or massage and pressure will improve the scars. Whatever the case may be it will be tailored to fit your needs. Please give the office a call at 718-246-0130 or email me at to be evaluated. Many of these procedures are covered by insurance. Keloids are always covered.


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